Oct 20, 9:25 AM EDT

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to the highest level in five weeks but still remained close to the recent 43-year lows

AP Photo
AP Photo/Seth Perlman

A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
WHY IT MATTERS: Wall Street matters whether you invest or not _ just look at the crisis of 2008

European Central Bank head Mario Draghi left open the possibility the bank would extend its stimulus program of 80 billion euros in monthly bond purchases beyond its earliest end date in March

AP FACT CHECK: Trump's downbeat comparison of US economy to those of China and India is off base

AP Interview: IMF official says Mideast trying to handle low oil prices, though more needs done

China's economic growth held steady in the latest quarter, shored up by a bank lending boom and consumer spending that helped make up for weaker trade

Britain's statistics agency says inflation in the country spiked to a near two-year high of 1 percent in the year to September from 0.6 percent in August

Transcripts disclosed by WikiLeaks show Hillary Clinton generally avoided direct criticism of Wall Street as she examined the causes and responses to the financial meltdown during a series of paid speeches to Goldman Sachs

Economic pressures are bearing down on Egypt, with several key steps to be taken to secure an International Monetary Fund bailout at a time when goods shortages and ever-rising prices are prompting public outrage at the leadership of President el-Sissi

U.S. shoppers upped their spending in September, with sharp increases in sales at auto dealers, restaurants and gas stations

Thailand's stock market and currency were shaken as long-ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej's health worsened this week

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to the highest level in five weeks but still remained close to the recent 43-year lows.

THE NUMBERS: Weekly applications for jobless benefits rose by 13,000 last week to 260,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That was the highest level since an identical 260,000 claim applications were filed the week of Sept. 10.

Since that time, claims had fallen to the lowest levels since November 1973. Even with last week's gain, claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, remain at levels indicating that workers are enjoying job security despite sluggish economic growth.

The increase in benefit applications was bigger than economists had been forecasting but some suggested that disruptions in filing applications earlier caused by Hurricane Matthew might have been a factor.

Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, said that there were claims increases in North Carolina that could have been hurricane related and he said that big gains in California and Kentucky might be "a garden variety makeup" for lower-than-expected readings in the previous two weeks.

The four-week average for claims, a less volatile measure, rose by 2,250 to 251,750 last week.

Overall, 2.06 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks, down 6 percent from a year ago.

THE TAKEAWAY: The labor market has continued to show steady improvement this year although at a slower pace than in 2015. Employers added 156,000 jobs in September, fewer than the 167,000 jobs added in August and below last year's average monthly gain of 230,000.

The unemployment rate inched up to 5 percent in September, compared to 4.9 percent in August, as more than 400,000 people entered the labor market to look for jobs but not all of them were immediately successful.

Still, the unemployment rate is just half the 10 percent high hit in October 2009 as the country was struggling to pull out of the Great Recession.

KEY DRIVERS: Applications for jobless benefits staying close to a four-decade low provides strong evidence that the job market remains resilient despite the fact that economic growth has been anemic so far this year. The economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a rate of just 1.4 percent in the second quarter after an even weaker 0.8 percent increase in the first three months of the year.

Economists believe that growth has accelerated in the just-completed third quarter to around 2.5 percent to 3 percent. The government will report that number next week.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.